Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monterey adventures week 3

June 20 - 24, 2013:

Another trip out to the Monterey Peninsula to the Point Lobos State Natural Preserve where we hiked a number of trail.  These are trails with epic sea views of the surf crashing against the rocky coast with sea birds, sea lions, seals and tidal pools.  The photos just do not do it justice, not even close.  Also there is a small museum in an original mid 1800's wooden cabin that was so much history and great stuff.  This area has a rich history involving the original indians who lived there for 2,400 years and left it all as it was, then for the next 150 years the Chinese fisherman, the Portuguese whalers, the Japanese albacore fisherman, the US Army and an assortment of entrepreneurs who did their best to destroy everything.  This would probably be another Pebble Beach if it weren't for Mr. A.M. Allen who purchased Point Lobos in 1898 and then bought back all other private residential lots that had previously been sold.  His heirs sold it to the State of California in 1933 and it eventually became a Nature preserve. It seems that everywhere you go there is one wealthy visionary entrepreneur who does wonderful things (possibly out of guilt) to save something special from ruin.

Point Lobos

View from trail at Point Lobos

Sea Lions sleeping on the rocks, they seem to do that most of the day

Point Lobos trail view

Point Lobos trail view

Whale meat can label

Point Lobos trail view, note the clear water in tidal pool

Crab in Point Lobos Tidal Pool

A sea Urchin in Point Lobos tidal pool

Close up of Crab

Point Lobos trail view

Point Lobos trail view

Weird erosion along sea coast at Point Lobos

One of my favorite beers is "Fat Tire", not for the taste of the brew, but for their attitude and philosophy. They also have a great series of coasters, collectables for sure.  This one "Trailer Trashed" is a favorite, but they are all good.  Any bar that serves Fat Tire and has the coasters is a place I want to patronize.

Sunday we went to the Old Mission San Juan Bautista Festival in San Juan Bautista, food, folkloric dancers, singers and a band.  The festival performers were 100% hispanic and spanish was the main language being spoken.  This area is totally bi-lingual, the locals all seem to switch back and forth between English and Spanish.  The food at the festival was not that special, except for the ice cream covered with strawberries, raspberries, chocolate and whipped cream, which was beyond good !  We then wandered around the shops in town and stopped at Mom and Pop's Saloon where the bikers were lined up and the music was blasting.  The band was so great that we couldn't leave after one beer and ended up staying for three, I think ?  I have to add Mom and Pop's to my "favorites list", even if they don't have Fat Tire. 

Hell's Angels poster at Mom & Pop's Saloon

Hillside view near our campground outside of Gilroy

Old Mission San Juan Bautista Fiesta

Old Mission San Juan Bautista Fiesta dancers

Old Mission San Juan Bautista Fiesta dancers

Old Mission San Juan Bautista Fiesta singer

Old Mission San Juan Bautista Fiesta

Band at Mom & Pop's Saloon

Old Mission San Juan Bautista Fiesta dancers

We awoke Monday morning to lots of clouds and a few minutes of light rain, a good day for inside stuff, then a trip to Barnes and Noble to use their free WiFi and look at books.  We haven't had many days like this, it's kind of different and relaxing. I spent much time on another photo web site, "Imagekind" where I have photos for sale, that is mostly a big waste of my time.  It's geared more for art work and the stuff that sells seems to either high quality photo shop enhanced or really goofy stuff.  My stuff sort of falls in-between, gets buried and is never seen.  In spite of that, I get the sadistic urge once in a while to put more photos up there.  imagekind     Once there search for Mojorider2 and my goods pop up.

Another drive into Santa Cruz through clouds and a light rain drizzle.  We stopped at the Natural Bridge State Beach to take a look from the parking lot, then went downtown to the Santa Cruz Art and History Museum. The drive along the coastline to the Beach passed through a nice oceanfront residencial area of Santa Cruz.  This beach is famous for the Monarch butterfly migration from October to January of the year and the large rock that the water has eroded to look like a bridge.

Then a stop at Trader Joe's, a quick lunch and a store to buy Mermaid socks for me.  The weather was not cooperating so it was back to the Betabel RV Park where the sun was shinning.

Surfing monument in Santa Cruz

Surfing museum in Santa Cruz
Natural Bridge State Beach

That's enough for now, more to follow, 
Twinkles and Slick

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Big Sur to Santa Cruz travels

June 15 - 20, 2013:

We went to the Gilroy farmers market next to the new library.  The farmers market was not too exciting, but the library was awesome. A local library can be a great place to hang out when RV'ing.  This one is near downtown, is huge and modern with a huge selection of magazines, DVD's, books and fast WiFi.  Then a ride over the Hecker Pass, the typical mountain pass road, to Watsonville.  The Pacific Ocean comes into view from the top of the Pass, quite an exciting view.  This area has weird weather conditions due to the cold ocean air and the coastal mountains that result almost daily in a layer of low clouds (they call it fog) and cold air. (It is not the sunny warm California that we expected).  We toured Watsonville for a while and then headed for the coast where we ended up in a huge traffic jam on route #1.  Totally by chance, (good move), we took an exit for Zmudowski State Beach to avoid the gridlock situation. The beach access road was unusual, it winded around the perimeter of acres and acres of strawberry and lettuce  fields, with swarms of farm laborers picking strawberries.  The beach was all natural, huge sand dunes, grasses and wild flowers, pelicans and sea gulls flying overhead.  We were freezing out there, it was low 60's, but regardless the high point of our day for sure. 

Fruit label mural in downtown Watsonville

Earthquake relief in Watsonville

Zmudowski Beach view

Huge sand dunes at the beach

View from the beach road

Lots of good mexican restaurants in Gilroy but for a change we decided to try the only Irish Pub Restaurant in town.  It didn't work out well, if in Gilroy stick to mexican !   

Friday night at Mom and Pop's Saloon in San Juan Bautista expecting something pretty lame.  I was surprised to see a row of motorcycles out front and then as I got closer I was even more surprised to see several bikers who appeared to be the real deal, (not the white collar guys, in their riding costumes and custom built bikes)  sporting their most intimidating "Hell's Angels", Demonic Souls and other such club jackets.  Inside it was a mix of bikers and latinos, hardly any english being spoken and there was a band (The Johnny Espenoza Band) made up 5 old dudes (close to my age) playing good mexican/latino music to an enthusiastic crowd who would dance to every song.  The crowd was rough looking, I felt out of place, had no idea what anyone was saying, but the music was good.  

I then went down the street to Daisy's Saloon where a band of young white guys were playing rock music.  It was quiet and boring, but it felt safer there and I got to see someone do a good deed.  Everywhere you go, if you watch and appreciate it, you will see random acts of kindness.  At Daisy's, a poor looking elderly flower lady came through trying to sell flowers.  The guy next to me, obviously a local, talked to her and feeling sorry for her bought a bunch of roses and then gave one to every women in the bar.  All the woman loved it, better than any pick up line, maybe he wasn't just being nice ? 

Fathers Day was spent quietly then an evening dinner at the "Le Jardin" in San Juan Bautista, french name for "The Garden" with real Mexican food.  The food was very good, not great, our waiter was terrible, but the outside patio setting and the incredible flower garden was truly "Great".  People come here just to wander around the flower garden, more like a botanical garden.

If ever in this area, a visit to the town of San Juan Bautista is highly recommended, it is a gem of a town.  

Another food recommendation in Gilroy, OD's restaurant for breakfast, not a fancy place, no trendy stuff, just good home cooking type breakfast dishes.  It is a Gilroy favorite.  

The Monterey coast is known as one of the most beautiful sea coasts in the country, it is a another must see when in this area.  It definitely lived up to all the hype.  We traveled as far south as Big Sur, in and out of the clouds and sun, it was a stunning ride.  There are many turnouts where you can pull over for photos and a few where there are trails down to the sea.  We stopped at one that was an incredible vista, then a trail down through a collage of brilliant wildflowers to the rocky beach.  Except for the wind and cold air it was perfect ! Then a lunch stop called "Rocky Point" near Carmel with a great views overlooking the ocean.

Wildflowers, deep blue water, sun and the fog

Another view

View across the road into the hills

Not bad down on the beach either !

Fog shrouded view

Bixby bridge north of Big Sur is a thrill

View from the "Rocky Point" restaurant

Along the route in Monterey, a stop was made in Castroville, the Artichoke center of the World.  A couple of interesting buildings and murals were located there and we even bought a artichoke.  Not sure what to do with it ?  Every town around here seems to be the capital or center for some kind of vegetable, but it is true, they grow massive quantities of it all here. 

Driving into Castroville

Castroville mural

Norma Jean (Marilyn Monroe) was a Castroville Artichoke
 queen before becoming famous, they still remember

The city of Santa Cruz has a vibrant downtown area filled with nice restaurants, pubs, shops, book stores, coffee shops.  We spent a couple hours roaming around and were very impressed, could easily spend a whole day right there.  After buying a few treats at Trader Joe's we then found our way to the Boardwalk area.  This is one of the few boardwalks on the west coast.  We weren't that impressed, we have been spoiled by the Jersey Shore boardwalks, there is no comparison.  It does have a famous old wooden roller coaster, "The Dipper" and a famous old carousel, but otherwise nothing special.  The fishing pier had many restaurants, but was pretty much just a smelly fishing pier.  We did see two Seals playing and a bunch of sleeping Sea Lions on a deck area there, they were a big attraction, trying to push each other into the water. On our way back to Gilroy, another traffic jam on Route 1, so we exited for a beach at Rio del Mar.   We walked to a pier which went out to an old Cement Ship, the "USS Palo Alta", built in 1919, then grounded there in 1929 as an amusement boat, then a fishing pier.  It was broken up in a storm and is now closed, but remains a fish reef and tourist attraction.

Mural in downtown Santa Cruz

Another Santa Cruz mural

Volleyball on the Santa Cruz beach

Santa Cruz beach

Sea Lions taking a snooze

The Seals playing at the Santa Cruz Pier

Santa Cruz was once a huge Ocean resort destination

The famous "Dipper" Roller Coaster

Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railroad at the beachfront

Beach at Rio del Mar

USS Palo Alta known as the Cement Ship

Electrical cabinet in downtown Santa Cruz

The Poet and the Patriot in Santa Cruz

That's all for now, take tuned for more,
Twinkles and Slick